Food Destinations #2: My Local (Green)market roundup!
I must confess something. I almost thought about changing the theme for this second round of Food Destinations, after receiving not a few emails saying things along the lines of "Great idea, but I've already talked enough about my local green/food/farmer's market". Of course, many food bloggers are going to be passionate enough about food to frequent, and talk about, markets already. Oops.
I decided to let it be however, because I was still looking forward to reading what people had to say on the subject in a concentrated manner. And as you will see from the bloggers who took up this challenge, the results are terrific. Each article takes you on a mouthwatering visit to a different food/green market. Food and travel, what can beat that combination? I can't think of much.
So, to go on a virtual market tour around the world, as well as to discover some great blogs (some dedicated to food, some to other subjects too) that may be new to you, read on...
Let's start in Europe. When I saw Jul of This Non-American Life's (a blog about being an American expat in Switzerland...I can relate to that) post about the Bürkliplatz market in Zürich, I had an 'ack' moment since this is in fact my most-frequented local green market, though I do roam around the other markets in the city. She describes it wonderfully - it's a really nice, regular homey food market for the residents of Zürich. And yep, berries are in season here!
Since Jul got to Bürkliplatz first, I went for my second-most-frequented market on the Helvetiaplatz. Both are about the same size, and held on the same days year-round, if you happen to be visiting Zürich sometime.
Moving to the west a bit, Pamela of Posie's Place (a Scot living in Switzerland) describes the wonderful daily market on the historical Marktplatz in Basel. This is right in the old town section of Basel so you have no excuse to miss it if you go to that beautiful city. (Three posts from three expats-living-in-Switzerland. I'm not sure what that says...we're all hungry?)
Amanda of Savoury Snark (what a great name), yet another expatriate (an American living in the U.K. this time), talks about her "local", a "produce store of unique caliber" called Bill's Produce Store in Brighton, England. We all should be lucky enough to have such a first-rate store in our neighborhood...
The intrepid Johanna of the passionate cook (expat alert again - Austrian in London!) filed her report on the great Borough Market in London, despite her laptop dying on her over the weekend. This is one of the truly awesome food markets in the world and I'm so glad Johanna was able to get her entry up in spite of her computer problems.
Swinging over to the east again, Zsofi of Chili & Vanilla, a Hungarian living in Belgium, goes back home to Budapest and files a wonderful report about the Budapest Central Market, which she visited with her fellow expatriate Danielle. (What is it about us expats and food? hmm...)
We'll keep heading east, to stop in India. Nandita of Saffron Trail braves potential rain and sure chaos to go to the Vile Parle East Vegetable Market in Mumbai, India, and comes back with some awesome pictures and a report that had me running to my spice cabinet to sniff my Indian spices, just to get a feel for what she was describing. (Okay, I'm weird.)
Going Down Under, Emily of Chocolate in Context (yet another expat...an American in Australia) chooses her favorite out of the markets of Melbourne, the South Melbourne Market. She loves the unpretentiousness and the great prices she can get there. And of course, she finds a purveyor of fine chocolates there too.
Finally we fly over to the United States, from which the rest of the reports are. Starting in New England, Kathy of Start Cooking, a beautiful new site (still in beta?) dedicated to teaching cooking newbies how to cook, describes the Boston Copley Square farmer's market, with helpful tips for getting inspiration for your meals at a market.
Moving down the I-95 to New York City, Virtual Frolic doesn't let the rain stop her as she goes out to the famous Union Square Greenmarket, the centerpiece of what is now probably the top foodie destination neighborhood in the whole of the city. Don't forget to check out her flickr photoset too!
Paula writes from Miami, a city mysteriously under-represented so far (that I know of) in the food blogging world, on the gorgeous new Mango and Lime site. She visits the Coconut Grove Organic Farmers Market in downtown Miami, with beautiful photos and useful tips for market touring in hot weather.
Natalia of From Our Kitchen describes one of her local food markets in Denver, Colorado, the Pearl Street market - a team effort since the photos are taken by her father! Colorado peaches enter my 'to definitely eat one day' list...
If you think of Seattle and food, you might automatically think of the world famous Pike Place Market. Kimberly of Music and Cats (yet another great site name) explains that there are several other markets in town, and proceeds to describe the Ballard Farmers’ Market. With so many wonderful markets, no wonder Seattle is a food lover's paradise. And I've fallen in love with the kitty in the banner.
We move down to the great state of California. Dolores of Culinary Curiosity takes us on a whole week's tour of the great markets in the San Francisco Bay area. With so many choices, no wonder this region is such a culinary hotspot.
Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway (the best way to go) to Lost Angeles, KT of Gastronomy 101's local market is on the real Melrose Place (not the TV show of that name), which is a "a tiny street that runs from La Cienega to Melrose". It may be a small market on a small street but it has all the requirements - fresh local produce, baked goods, and live entertainment.
Staying in Los Angeles, Erin of Erin's Kitchen describes the Wilshire Center Farmers' Market that's just outside her office - how lucky she is! I particularly loved the description of the "clutch of Korean grandmas" who arrive early to get the best produce. They sound just like my late grandmother.
We end our round-the-world tour in southern California, for a report with a difference. Motoko of We Must Eat goes to the South Pasadena Farmers' Market, and find herself a little underwhelmed. I found her post to be perhaps the most thought provoking one, because it reminds us that markets are not always paradises. I think the quality of any given market depends on many factors, but from the consumer's point of view it's what we expect, and demand from it. In the short decade or so I've been visiting or living in Zürich, I've seen the markets evolve to include more variety, more organic/bio-production produce, and above all more 'exotic' foodstuffs from areas other than Europe, because of the demand. I saw similar things happen to the markets in New York too when I lived there. I think this is all a great thing. I'd like to think we can exert the same kind of influence on all our food sources - from the food industry to farms to supermarkets, though our buying habits. That's an issue for another post though...
And receiving the prize is...
I can't say "the winner" because every entry was a winner in my opinion. However I can't give books to everyone unfortunately! In order to pick just one, the Official Taste Tester was given the task of reading all the entries carefully and then picking his favorites. After long discussions that went on until 2am this morning, we finally decided on one that had the best combination of background, personal touch, local flavor, and evocative photography, in our opinion. The Taste Tester's comments: "This was the entry that made me drool the most." (We also decided that next time we host this event ourselves and only have limited prizes, we are going to rope in some other judges - it's just too hard to choose.)
So, the Julia Child autobiography In My Kitchen goes to...Nandita of Saffron Trail for "Food Destinations # 2- Scenes from a Mumbai Marketplace". A packet will be winging its way to India very soon!
Thank you again to all the participants in this round of Food Destinations for your wonderful words and photography!
Food Destinations #3 will be announced very soon with a brand new theme and a new host - stay tuned!
Also, if you would like to host a future Food Destinations event, please email me at maki at makikoitoh dot_com. September, October and November are already spoken for - December onwards are open. To get a feel for what this event is about, you may want to read the posts linked to below.